CANBERRA - The world's largest Muslim body has warned against a military action in Syria over its bloody crackdown on anti-regime protestors, as the highest Sunni religious authority called for a bold action to end bloodshed in the Arab
"All these military interventions worsened the position rather than solved the conflict," Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), told an audience in Canberra on Wednesday, February 15, Reuters reported.
The OIC chief said that any military intervention in Syria would only harm the Syrian people, citing conflicts in Iraq, Libya and Somalia.
"We are keen to preserve Syria's safety, security and stability, and insist on rejecting the internationalization of the Syrian crisis and on working towards resolving it within the broader Islamic family as represented by the OIC."
More than 6,000 have been killed in a bloody crackdown by President Bashar Al-Assad's security forces on anti-regime protests.
International pressures have failed to halt violence in the pivotal Arab country, prompting speculations of launching a Libya-style military action against Syria.
Violence escalated after a Western-drafted UN resolution demanding an end to bloodshed and a power transfer in Syria was vetoed by Russia and China last month.
Since then Arab nations led by Gulf state rivals to Assad have been working to put a new resolution before the General Assembly.
Unlike a Security Council resolution, it cannot be vetoed but would not be binding.
The Arab League has also called for a joint UN-Arab peacekeeping force to be deployed in Syria and indicated members would be willing to arm the opposition -- moves that have caused concern among Western powers eager to see the end of Assad's 11-year-rule but wary of a foreign military intervention which could spark a wider regional war.
International power, including the OIC and the Arab League, will meet in Tunisia on February 24, as part of a newly-created "Friends of Syria Group" to look for a way to peacefully end the conflict in Syria.
"This will throw increasing pressure on the government to talk to the opposition, Ihsanoglu said.
We need to work out a blueprint for the future transformation of power.
The OIC warning comes a day after a call by Al-Azhar, the highest seat of leaning in the Sunni Muslim world, for a bold action to end Syria bloodshed.
"The situation now, brothers, no longer needs statements to condemn and criticize, Al-Azhar Grand Imam Dr Ahmed El-Tayyeb, said in a statement cited by Reuters.
But it is in desperate need of urgent, serious, and bold action from the Arabs," he added, without giving details of what kind of action he sought.
"I call on the human conscience to stop this hellish killing machine that works to shed blood. It must be stopped."
Al-Azhar is a university and religious body that has been a central seat of Sunni scholarship since the Middle Ages.
Observers and its own officials say it is seeking to develop a more active political role to make up for the lost time during ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's three-decades in power when the body kept close to the authorities.
Tayyeb said the Syrian opposition had the right to defend themselves, but urged them to refrain from turning their struggle into an armed confrontation.
"Oh you in Syria standing on solid ground, be patient, be firm and continue on your path with the blessings of God and do not be drawn into violence or armed confrontation in this miserable, despicable struggle," he said.
"But do defend yourself, your property, your women and your children and know that anyone killed unjustly is a martyr."
The Azhar Imam called on army officers in the Syrian government's forces to refuse orders to kill protesters.
Remember that the mission of armies is to protect people and nations, not oppress," he said in a message to the Syrian army.He also said the body would be willing to go to Syria to end the dispute, if "the path was opened for it."